The Delta Air Lines paradox: Stellar fundamentals against a bemusing anti globalisation stance

Delta Air Lines has emerged as one of the strongest US airlines by many financial and operational measures. Its success is driven by clear cut internal targets, and also, the benefit of being a first mover in the last wave of US consolidation that began in 2008.

Delta has enjoyed many first mover benefits that have allowed the airline to leave its large US rivals in the rearview mirror as the merged entities of American and United are still working to fully exploit their projected synergies. As a result, Delta has adopted unconventional and aggressive business strategies including buying an oil refinery, hinging aircraft orders on tentative pilot deals, opting to operate a fleet with a higher average age and engaging in a battle with its long-standing partner Alaska Air Group for supremacy in Seattle.

The airline’s other controversial moves include leading the charge against claims that the three large Gulf airlines unfairly benefit from subsidies and the decision to un-align itself with the US airline lobbying group Airlines for America. Those actions raise questions about Delta’s global perception as it cries foul over Gulf subsidies, yet opts to invest in other subsidised airlines.

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